Here is a complete blip.tv video of the 11/13/10 King Street Zoning Workshop that brought together members of the Northampton Planning Board, the Zoning Revisions Committee, and the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. (There is a gap of a few seconds after the first hour for camera changeover.) This video is 3 hours 43 minutes long and was recorded by Adam Cohen.
Here is an 11-minute YouTube excerpt where Zoning Revisions Committee chair Danielle Kahn debates with Edward Etheredge, Dennis Bidwell and others the merits of establishing a special Smart Growth district around a portion of King Street. Etheredge is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Bidwell is a member of both the ZRC and the Chamber. Within the Smart Growth district, Kahn favors allowing residential units to be built on the ground floors of buildings (not just on upper floors). She believes that allowing more residential options will support businesses by providing them with more local customers.
Kahn: “I think it marginalizes the [Smart Growth district] proposal unnecessarily to call it ‘Dani and Dillon’s proposal’. I’m not attached to this. I’m just trying to put another set of ideas out there so that we’re allowed to have discussion about more than one idea. So far, I feel that that discussion has been shut down in this process…”
Etheredge: “I view it as insufficient traffic to support [the alternative proposal] and it would basically kill King Street more effectively than the 2002 [zoning]… We have less than 19% of our tax base as commercial. We have no more commercial land. The incentive in the community is not to allow any more commercial land. All commercial activity in this town has been disappearing for the last 30 years and is going to be completely gone by the processes we’re currently discussing… It’s easier to build housing and it will make money in Northampton, but if you do it, you wipe out business, and then we’ll have to use the cars to drive to Hadley, which is the only place that allows business… The [Smart Growth] node is problematic. It breaks up the zone. You’ve destroyed the integrity of the district.”
Here is the workshop agenda with ground rules:
Possible design standards for the roadway and sidewalks:
An aerial photo of King Street:
As the workshop progressed, moderator Kevin Lake placed a green check on proposals where he felt there was consensus. A red check indicates consensus has not yet formed. Consensus was hardest to achieve for proposals in the Highway Business zone. Many of these issues will be debated further at a meeting in early December (to be announced).
At two points during the workshop, your videographer made brief comments as a member of the public. In essence, these boiled down to urging respect for residents as a key to making mixed-use zoning work. The assumption is that when residents feel respected, they invest in their properties, care for them, and stay for the long term. Businesses then benefit by abutting healthy, attractive, prosperous neighborhoods. Conflict and lawsuits are minimized. Ways to manifest respect include:
- Early notification of property owners about zoning proposals that would affect them (as suggested by the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association)
- Preserving or enhancing the size and quality of the buffer zones between residential and non-residential properties (see the David Teece and Edwards Square controversies for how much residents care about these buffers)
- Requiring design standards for all sides of commercial buildings (not just the parts visible from public streets)
- Retaining special permit requirements for large projects (as suggested by former ZRC chair Joel Russell)
Video: Zoning Revisions Committee Meeting of 10/6/10; King Street Forum Comments; Planning Staff Offer Suggestions
Danielle Kahn: “I think that I would be willing to serve as chair…but…I wouldn’t want to bring us through a process–particularly, obviously with regard to King Street–if we weren’t all on board that there might be significant compromise to the Chamber proposal, like that there could be changes to it…if there’s going to be like a lot of resistance to any change to it at all, then I think it’s going to be really difficult for me to help us to do that, you know, or any chair for that matter.”
Videos: Zoning for King Street, 9/21/10
The first hour is a presentation of proposed zoning changes (PDF, 2MB), including those suggested by the Chamber of Commerce (PDF, 1.3MB). The second hour is devoted to questions and comments from the public.
Video: Zoning Revisions Committee Continues to Deliberate King Street, 7/21/10
These charts summarize the zoning changes the Chamber would like to see (download the charts as a high-resolution PDF).
Chamber Plans to Take King Street Proposals to Planning Board if Zoning Revisions Committee ‘Bogs Down’ in Process (6/25/10)
Dennis Bidwell, member of the Zoning Revisions Committee and chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee, advises: “If we get to September, we get to October, and we’re feeling like it’s bogged down in process, and meanwhile, folks are waiting for something to happen, we [the Chamber] would go to the Planning Board and say, ‘Act on it’.”